There’s no shortage of Lethbridge College alumni who are outstanding leaders, thinkers and doers in their careers and communities, and this year’s Honouring Excellence award recipients are among the best and brightest.
Honorees this year include Distinguished Alumni Scott Murakami (Sheet Metal 1986); Career Virtuoso Mike McCready (Multimedia Production 1999); Community Leader Wayne Elsbett (Criminal Justice – Policing 2021) and Rising Star Jared Garrick (Business Administration – Marketing 2013).
“One of the most inspiring nights of the year is when we get together to choose Honouring Excellence award recipients,” says Jordan Karst, chair, Alumni Advisory Council. “Learning about other alumni and what they have gone on to do after graduation is incredible, and it doesn’t matter when you graduated from Lethbridge College, hearing about a fellow alum doing amazing things always ignites a feeling of pride. This year’s winners are a group we can all be very proud of!”
The college and broader community will celebrate the achievements of the 2023 recipients at an Honouring Excellence recognition event to take place at 6 p.m., March 23 at Lethbridge College. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Honouring Excellence website.
This event is made possible by affinity program partner TD Insurance, who has been a valuable supporter of Lethbridge College alumni for more than 10 years.
The Distinguished Alumni award was established in 1992 to commemorate the college’s 35th anniversary, while the other three alumni awards were created in 2007 to commemorate the college’s 50th anniversary. Nearly 100 graduates have received alumni awards from Lethbridge College.
Distinguished Alumni: Scott Murakami (Sheet Metal 1986)
Scott Murakami is a prime example of what can be achieved when a person gives back to their community. A proud supporter of several local organizations and initiatives, Murakami has used his standing to help build major projects in Lethbridge and southern Alberta while teaching and inspiring the next generation of local trades professionals.
A 1986 graduate of the college’s Sheet Metal apprentice program, Murakami joined KB Heating and Air Conditioning in 1990 as a residential installer. He had several roles and responsibilities over the following years, working his way up to General Manager and, in 2014, Managing Partner. Murakami has been instrumental in helping the business grow from its foundation of residential heating and air conditioning to include commercial and industrial customers. During its 40 years in business, KB Heating and Air Conditioning has been involved in the construction and improvement of major facilities in southern Alberta, including the ENMAX Centre, ATB Centre, Red Crow College, University of Lethbridge – Aperture Park, and Lethbridge College.
Murakami has fond memories of his time at Lethbridge College and makes an effort to support the trades programs in any way possible. Not only does KB Heating and Air Conditioning employ several LC graduates, Murakami – through his partnership with Keith Broadbent and Greg Broadbent – has given generously in support of college fundraising initiatives, student awards, capital campaigns and more. With past contributions and another major funding commitment in 2023, KB Heating and Air Conditioning has donated more than $300,000 to Lethbridge College. These gifts have made, and continue to make, an immeasurable impact on students.
He's also keen to support the development of the future trades workforce and places a high value on mentoring and teaching youth about the opportunities available in the industry. Murakami attends job and career fairs, takes job shadow students, volunteers on several youth and education focused committees and is active with Alberta Industry and Training. In 2022, with Murakami’s support, KB Heating and Air Conditioning hosted a CAREERS Young Women in Trades and Technologies camp that provided six high school-aged girls the chance to explore, learn and ask questions about the trades.
Because of Murakami’s considerable career success, steadfast support of Lethbridge College, and immense service to his community, he has been named this year’s Distinguished Alumni.
Career Virtuoso: Mike McCready (Multimedia Production 1999)
Mike McCready is living proof that when you find and pursue your passion, there’s no limit to what you can do. For McCready, Lethbridge College’s Multimedia Production program unleashed both his love of learning and an intense curiosity to explore technology, and in the years since, he’s broken new ground in virtual and augmented reality for a tech-interested audience around the world.
McCready graduated from Lethbridge College in 1999 and he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Professional Arts – Communications Studies from Athabasca University. He returned to the college in 2008 as an employee, where he was eventually appointed as the college’s first social media strategist.
In 2015, McCready began teaching in the very program that was a catapult for his career. As a Multimedia Production instructor, he once again applied his love of learning and technology to create two more firsts for the college; he began teaching basic virtual reality (VR) game design; and he helped plan Merging Realities, the world’s first conference held in VR. This conference was another catalyst for both the college and McCready, resulting in the development of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Certificate program, which is the only one of its kind in Alberta. In 2019, McCready organized the Lethbridge College Global VR Forum as part of the INVENTURES event in Calgary, which saw more than 200 people experience cutting-edge technology and hear speakers from around the world present in VR.
The Global VR Forum was also a catalyst. As a result of the success of the event, McCready was approached to lead the college’s research activities related to VR and AR. Since his appointment, he has been able to help secure more than $3.5 million in grants and partnerships and help establish the Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) Centre. The activities that McCready has been involved with have positioned Lethbridge College as a leader in the VR/AR industry throughout the province, country and globe.
His thirst for knowledge and exploration of new technologies continues to thrive and led McCready to pursue a research master’s degree in VR from the University of Kent. He will submit his thesis in March 2023. While the Career Virtuoso Award recognizes McCready’s already significant contributions to the field, it seems likely his passion for this work will continue to drive even more accomplishments.
Community Leader: Wayne Elsbett (Criminal Justice – Policing 2021)
If there’s a genetic sequence that generates a volunteer spirit, you’ll find it in Wayne Elsbett’s DNA. It’s a value he learned early on from his parents and his rural southern Alberta upbringing. He’s volunteered in a wide range of roles including more than two decades in volunteer fire services. You could find him supporting community event planning, Rural Crime Watch, Safe Communities committee, coaching youth soccer, mentoring in 4-H clubs, working with elderly people dealing with mental health and mobility issues, and offering personal care support. He also owns and operates Palliser Triangle Service in Duchess, Alta.
Out of these experiences and opportunities, he learned dedication and a quest for excellence in all that he does. His team-oriented mentorship has encouraged others to be proactive in the community. This leadership was recognized with the 2018 and 2019 Bow River Volunteerism Awards, presented by Bow River Member of Parliament, Martin Shields, followed by the Governor General of Canada’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2020.
Elsbett graduated with honours from Lethbridge College’s Criminal Justice – Policing program in 2021. He found courses dealing with mental health, crisis intervention and conflict resolution especially intriguing and he committed to keep learning about mental health and the effects in our communities. He completed addition courses, including Before Operational Stress (BOS) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) certificates. He makes himself available to anyone who needs some to actively listen non-judgmentally to concerns and he offers guidance to more resources as needed. He works to create a mentally sound community in which everyone can feel welcome and heard.
For his professionalism, perseverance and devotion to an inclusive community, Elsbett will be recognized with a Community Leader Award.
Rising Star: Jared Garrick (Business Administration – Marketing 2013)
As Lethbridge College’s Rising Star Award winner, Jared Garrick’s success serves as an example of the value of pursuing your passions.
Garrick, who graduated with a Business Administration diploma in Marketing in 2013, parlayed entrepreneurial knowledge and skills into a business that merges his creativity and his construction skills to create one-of-kind public and private spaces.
Garrick owns and operates Rovü, a Lethbridge company that offers commercial and residential renovations, general contracting, interior and architectural design, and public art.
The business is truly unique and award-winning, making its mark in the most visual ways. Public art installations include Lethbridge’s “Together” sculpture on Fifth Street South, a series of interlocking colourful chairs that symbolize community and resulted from Rovü’s collaboration with Toronto-based Punch Clock Metals and a pair of Canadian artists. For CBC, he created larger-than-life, functional headphones that will be featured around Calgary, and will be displayed along the red carpet of the 2023 Juno Awards in Edmonton. Working with artist Brendan Browne, Rovü has produced thousands of square feet of murals across southern Alberta in addition to creating Casa’s first spray-paint class.
Garrick’s work builds community, not only through structures, but through connections with people. He works with non-profit organizations and creates opportunities for local artists and at-risk young people whom he encourages to explore self-expression through art.
His successful fusion of art and construction will soon see him expand into a retail décor store and a documentary series, among other creative pursuits in southern Alberta and beyond. With so much on the horizon, it's clear to see why Garrick is this year's Rising Star award recipient.